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Refrigerator Bread, Again and Again

Bread LeadSeldom do I feel the need to repeat a recipe, but this is critical. I have become aware that some of my favorite people haven’t seen this recipe, which I posted HERE eons ago. And, I have had yet a few other favorite people repeat that they are afraid of baking bread, especially if it involves yeast. You know who you are. This can’t go on. It is a travesty, on both counts.

Travesty might be a strong word. But this is a formula that I use constantly. It is one of those recipes on this site that gets a weekly workout. So over the past two-and-a-half years since I posted it, my method has been refined. I’m better at it than I was when I first introduced it. The bread is prettier. (My photos are a bit better, too.) And I think my way of preparing it is better now. It is essentially the same recipe and a similar process, but instead of posting updates on an old, unattractive post, I’ve decided to call a do-over. Because, I can.

This is not my original thought, though. This recipe is heavily inspired from the work of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and Jim Lahey’s bread recipe. Those who have read the books will know exactly where I drop off from one and pick up on the other. Plus, there are little methods that I’ve created because they work better for me. For instance, this is a very wet dough, so after it is formed and rises it is hard to move it to the oven without thoroughly messing it up and deflating it. So, I form it and let it rise on a floured piece of parchment and then move the dough, parchment and all, to the oven. During baking it comes unstuck from the parchment. No harm, no foul.

Bread MixThe gist of this is that it takes virtually no effort. This is “no-knead” bread. You mix it in a bucket. It makes enough dough for three to four loaves and can sit in the refrigerator (hence the name) for a week. I use a restaurant food storage bucket for mine and I have written the recipe on the side so that I don’t have to scrounge for it every time. I just throw the bucket on the kitchen scale, zero out the scale, pour in 2 pounds of bread flour, toss everything else in and mix it up to a gloppy, messy dough. It takes approximately 5 minutes from start to finish. And for this, you get three gorgeous loaves of bread throughout the week. But, you can use any container that is large enough and that you don’t mind having out of service for a week at a time.

I use King Arthur Bread Flour for this recipe. Special tools that make this a snap: Kitchen Scale and an Instant Read Thermometer.

Bread MixingRecipe for Refrigerator Bread: (makes 3 to 4 loaves)

Ingredients:

32 ounces bread flour
½ ounce active dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt
3 cups warm water

Instructions:

1. Weigh the bread flour and add it to a large container. Mix the yeast and salt into the flour. Finally, add the water and use a large sturdy spoon to stir the dough until it is completely moistened. Set the container on the counter and leave it to sit at room temperature for two hours. Then, place the container in the refrigerator. It should stay in the refrigerator for a minimum of two hours before proceeding with the baking procedure, and may stay in the refrigerator for up to a week.

2. To bake a loaf of bread, remove the container from the refrigerator and reach into the container and pull out roughly a third of the dough. This is best done with amply floured hands. Shape the dough into a ball by folding it over onto itself a few times and sealing any seams by pinching. Use additional flour to keep the dough from sticking to your work surface and hands. Place the ball on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper. Allow the ball of dough to rise until doubled in size, approximately 40 minutes.

Bread Rising3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Place a heat proof dutch oven inside the oven to warm at the same time (Make sure the pot is oven safe and that all of its fittings and handles are oven safe before doing this). When the dough has risen, CAREFULLY pull the oven rack out and remove the lid from the pot. Or, remove the Dutch oven to a HEATPROOF surface and remove the lid. Cut a ¼” slit in the top of the bread with a very sharp knife. Gently drop the dough (still attached to the parchment) into the dutch oven. Spray 3 squirts of water mist into the pot with a mist bottle and quickly replace the lid. REMEMBER THE POT AND LID ARE 475 DEGREES.

4. Quickly, place the pot back into the oven and allow the bread to bake for 25 minutes. Then, remove the lid from the pot and allow the bread to continue to bake for another 10 minutes. At this point, check the bread for doneness by rolling the loaf over with a spatula or using a gloved hand and piercing it through the bottom with an instant read thermometer. If it registers 200 degrees, the bread is fully baked. Remove it to a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely. If it is not fully baked, continue to bake in 5 minute increments until it reaches 200 degrees.

Bread FinishedNote: Listen to the bread crackle as it cools. It is a wonderful sound. Also, as tempting as hot bread is, the cooling process is important…so don’t cut right into it.

But, most importantly, if you missed this recipe the first time around, or if you thought it was too hard to make BREAD…I implore you to give it a try.

And for those who have been patiently waiting for the new shipment of Nancy Lou’s treenware spoons and sissy sticks…they are here. Come visit the PIE Etsy shop.

 

 

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16 comments to Refrigerator Bread, Again and Again

  • Kelly

    And, you tested the yeast and it was alive? What type of yeast are you using? This is so curious.

  • margie

    love the recipe , tried it twice, following the directions to the letter. The dough hasnt ever risen leaving the bread very dense…
    Any thoughts?
    Margie

  • Kelly

    Hi Margie, I’m so sad you are having trouble with this. My first thought is that the main action occurs during the 2 hours that it sits on the counter before going into the refrigerator. The time in the refrigerator slows the work of the yeast. If it is not rising during that first 2 hours on the counter, I’d say you need to check your yeast by proofing it. To do that place the yeast in a cup of warm water. If the yeast is active, in 5 minutes it will look frothy and bubbly. If not, it might be bad yeast. Also, always pay attention to the date on the packet. As for the skin you mentioned, if the dough has been in the fridge for several days without being used at all, this can occur. With a lid perched on top, it shouldn’t be bad. I have actually just kneaded it into the dough and not had a problem. The loaf, once formed, will then have another opportunity to expand and rise during the 40 to 45 minutes prior to baking. If none of this helps let me know and we will keep brain-storming. Thanks.

  • I’ve tried this twice and do not feel that the dough rises and after keeping in refrigerator, it gets a hard crust. What am I doing wrong????????

  • Your bread looks so delicious, thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

  • Judy Hartling

    Do you know you can place the dough for its second rising in whatever pot you are going to cook it in for its second rising WITHOUT pre-heating it. Once risen & ready to bake, place in cold oven & turn to desired heat – count your baking time from when the max temperature is reached. I do this all the time now – works perfectly. No more trying to handle a burning pot & manouever risen dough!

  • Kelly

    Kay, I have added cheddar cheese to it before. I just sort of stretched out the dough for one loaf, sprinkled cheese on it and folded it over a few times and sealed any edges by pinching. It was great. but, my kids love it plain (with lots of butter) so I rarely mess with it. Report back if you do anything fun with it.

  • Kay

    Hi Kelly,
    Love this bread recipe. Can you add anything to it, like flax seed or any other stuff or herbs or flavors?
    Miss you,
    Kay

  • Beautiful, and I think I can smell that fresh baked bread smell from here.

  • Kelly

    Kaye, they are both great questions. I do not cover the dough while it is rising, and merely leave it out on the countertop (though out of the dog’s reache). I do slash the top, but it is not strictly necessary. Use a VERY sharp knife or razor blade and cut about 1/2 inch into the surface just before transferring it to the oven. The dutch oven is about 11 inches in diameter and 5.5 inches tall. I think it is about 6 quarts, but I cannot remember off the top of my head.

    PLEASE let me know if you have any other questions. I definitely want everyone to have success with this. Just remember, KEEP THE HOTPADS HANDY! You will need them.

  • kaye bearden

    Sorry one more question! Want to make this just want to make sure I do it right! What size baking pot?

  • kaye bearden

    do you cover the dough while it is rising? do you slash the top? Thanks for the help.

  • Kelly

    Hi Erica…this is a guess, sort of. It makes three loaves, or four small loaves. My family will eat a half of a loaf with dinner. So I’d say that each loaf serves 6 to 8 people and the entire recipe would serve 20 to 24. I hope that helps.

  • Erica

    How many mouths does that lovely creation feed?

    Thanks for reposting this – maybe it will renew my confidence in bread making :)

  • This looks awesome! I love making fresh baked bread, but I usually use my bread maker. I will have to give this a try!

  • Susan Marie

    This is intriguing in so many ways! I use my thermometer all the time, but have never heard of using it to test baked bread. That loaf of bread looks fantastic!

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